Even on cold, frosty mornings, Grace College’s Campus Safety team rises early and unlocks the doors to each academic building on campus. These quiet heroes make it possible for sleepy students to reach their 8 a.m. classes and staff members to open their offices each day. Thanks to three enterprising seniors from a mathematics capstone class, Campus Safety is now making their rounds more efficiently.
“The original problem was to find the best route for Campus Safety,” said Gabrielle Kuszewski, a senior mathematics student at Grace College. “Their original drive time to unlock all campus doors was 12 minutes and five seconds each morning,” Kuszewski said. “We were able to get it down to nine minutes and 28 seconds.” The students improved Campus Safety’s driving time by 25.6 percent.
Over eight weeks, the team of three collaborated to find the best solution. First, they found the time it took for Campus Safety to get from each building to every other building on campus. The group used Google to map the distances and then found an equation that would calculate the time it took for Campus Safety to reach each building. “With that information,” Kuszewski said, “We were able to model our situation and find the best route, mathematically.”
The team used the integer programming formulation of the traveling salesman problem. This technique is famous in the world of computer science and mathematics; it addresses a specific problem and finds the optimal solution, starting and stopping at the same point of reference. In this case, Campus Safety had to start at McClain Hall and travel to every building on campus before returning to McClain. The student team found the quickest route for Campus Safety to take.
Kuszewski partnered with fellow seniors Katelyn Ware and Joshua Tew. Dr. Kristin Farwell, mathematics program director at Grace College, guided their work. According to Kuszewski, the process helped her team learn to collaborate effectively and work through obstacles. “Most of all, it was a great, practical example of how math can help people in the real world,” she said.
Grace College’s mathematics department is dedicated to developing concepts and real-world applications. The department offers four mathematics majors. Graduates are well-prepared for careers in business, computer technology, science and other related fields. For more information on the Grace College mathematics department, visit here.